Journal Matt 9 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: (Jesus is speaking) “No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made.
Neither is new wine put in old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed.
[But] New wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved…” (Matt 9:16-17)
Observation: Movements through history; their existence, application, and accommodations…how does the Church manage them? What should I be looking and praying for?
Application: This section of Scripture reminds me of my start in the Kingdom. I thought I would share.
Once upon a time (40-some odd years ago) I was part of a church start up called the Gathering Unto Him. It was a bunch of like-minded young adults wanting to do something different than established denominational churches of the day. Our aim was to create a community of and for the King.
We weren’t innovative in this regard; there was an entire movement doing the same thing. However, there was at least one foundational scripture consistent among all these groups: We cannot put new wine into old wine skins—new wine being a fresh move of the Spirit (emphasis on fresh).
I still have a couple of books on my shelf about this. The main book title is (cleverly enough) “The problem of Wineskins: Church structure in a technological age.” (Howard A Snyder; IVP, Downers Grove IL; 1975) There is a sequel titled, “Community of the King.”
Suffice it to say, this book still influences my core thinking about church, church function, church mission, and church polity. It has been augmented with other, more scholarly books (especially books from 1995 on about Reformed Theology without reducing charismatic studies), and especially 2000 through 2006 where I was part of an intense men’s study group learning about the Cross and the Gospel.
I have now (being a senior and all that) realized that what I thought was revolutionary is just evolutionary; the Church goes through phases. These phases are easy enough to see in hindsight—mostly because the “general” church does not seem to do well concerning church history. I was in a Journal group this morning and all three (three?!!?) of us recognized the term “Great Awakening” and we probably could have bet that less than 20% of a survey taken this coming Sunday would even have known what it was. (We didn’t bet…)
The point of these “phases” that God brings? To sharpen the local church. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. Main culprit?
Perhaps the main culprit is the desire, temptation to “go back to Egypt” like Israel did with Moses after the going got tough (I am looking at the album “So you want to go back to Egypt” by Keith Green as I am writing this). Perhaps the old surroundings are more desirable than new stuff. Maybe…I don’t know.
Something to pray for concerning the next generation. Embrace “preaching the Gospel/Kingdom and healing the sick” and “making disciples” like Jesus instructed—although maybe pay attention to making disciples out of converts…
Prayer: Lord God, thank you so very much for all that you have brought me through. These accumulated experiences have made me the man I am today.
I don’t want to stop learning. I don’t want to stop gaining in godliness. I want to learn more about falling at the foot of the Cross and losing my life in You, always.
Ricky Two Shoes